3 months ago

7 Things: Ivey mandates masks, Huntsville added to coronavirus hotspot list, Trump calls out the left’s attack on America and more …

7. Low rent in Alabama isn’t low enough

  • The annual “Out of Reach” report released by the National Law Income Housing Coalition suggests that even though Alabama has one of the lowest rent costs in the country, it’s still too high and unaffordable for minimum wage workers. 
  • The report says that most minimum wage workers can’t afford the rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 95% of U.S. counties, and none can afford the rent of a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. Alabama came in 46th for housing costs, and figures that a worker in the state must earn $15.44 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental.

6. Secret Trump voters

  • Recent polling indicates that President Donald Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden. This trend is indicated in national polls by Rasmussen and Quinnipiac, as well as swing state polls that place him down double digits in Pennsylvania and even in Texas.
  • In Pennsylvania, a polling firm asked about “secret Trump voters,” or voters who don’t want to say they support Trump publicly, and 57% of respondents said that those voters will not admit they support Trump but will vote for him November.

5. Trump knows what’s best for Alabama, apparently

  • President Donald Trump endorsed former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville in the U.S. Senate runoff, and now Tuberville will face U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in the general election, so Trump has started his attacks against Jones. 
  • Trump criticized Jones for “not doing the job,” and added that Jones “doesn’t represent the views of the people of Alabama.” He went on to praise Tuberville, saying that will be “a great senator.”

4. Biden wants to get rid of the “American way of life”

  • President Donald Trump has released another attack on former Vice President Joe Biden, saying that he and “the Radical Left want to Abolish Police, Abolish ICE, Abolish Bail, Abolish Suburbs, Abolish the 2nd Amendment – and Abolish the American Way of Life.”
  • President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign national press secretary Hogan Gidley said that “Biden is waging war” on the “American way of life,” jobs and families, but Biden has attacked Trump on the coronavirus pandemic again recently, saying that “unlike this president, I’ll actually listen to the experts and head their advice.” That came in response to a report about recent tensions between the White House and Dr. Anthony Fauci. 

3. Huntsville is on the national watchlist

  • Due to the rise in coronavirus cases and the positive test percentage being more than 10%, Huntsville has been added to a national watchlist of cases, and people from the national response team are assisting the area. 
  • Dr. Pam Hudson, CEO of Crestwood Medical Center, said that the current rate of those hospitalized having to be placed in the ICU is around 30%. She said while our hospitalization numbers seem to be “flattening,” there’s still 132 people hospitalized, and the county positive test percentage is at 15%. 

2. CDC: Coronavirus could be under control in the U.S. if people wore masks

  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Dr. Robert Redfield has said that if everyone starts wearing a face mask, “over the next four to six, eight weeks, we can bring this epidemic under control.”
  • Due to early conflicting reports about the effectiveness of masks, many people still refuse to wear them, but statewide mask mandates are also becoming more popular as states have coronavirus case spikes, leaving governors with the options of mask mandates or shutdowns. 

1. Statewide mask order is happening

  • Governor Kay Ivey has revised the state “Safer-At-Home” health order to include a statewide mask requirement, which will supersede all current mask mandates in counties and cities. This was expected as deaths and coronavirus cases continue to increase across Alabama. 
  • While U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) praised the move, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth has made it clear that he supports wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but he’s also voiced his opposition to the mask mandate, saying the order “is an overstep that infringes upon the property rights of business owners and the ability of individuals to make their own health decisions.”
1 min ago

Huntsville’s Diatherix a national leader in cutting-edge COVID-19 testing technology

When reliable testing for COVID-19 became a national priority earlier this year, one company in Huntsville was already set up to take on a leading role.

Diatherix was equipped to offer testing through its cutting-edge technology, and it was able to do so in a way conducive to effective treatment of the virus by providing same-day results.

An infectious disease clinical laboratory located in the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Diatherix provides testing capabilities for doctors’ offices, hospitals, reference labs and nursing homes.

In a recent conversation with Yellowhammer News, Diatherix president Jennifer Cart described her company’s role in confronting the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We essentially provide a laboratory service so that physicians can more accurately diagnosis their patients,” said Cart. “We are squarely seated in this rapid, providing of same day results for the specimen so we are giving very timely and accurate information in infectious diseases.”

Having been in business since 2008, that role is reflected in the company’s name, which Cart explained represents “where diagnostics meet therapeutics.”

While conventional laboratories provide more generalized testing on a broader range of specimens, Diatherix’s more tailored focus allowed it to rise to the occasion on the front-end of the COVID-19 outbreak in March.

“We are very uniquely specialized in infectious disease, and our proprietary technology is a very high-throughput multiplex that makes us able to run a high volume of specimens with multiple results,” outlined Cart.

The team at Diatherix began its assessment of the coronavirus in December 2019, according to Cart. This early evaluation allowed the company to hit the ground running when the need arose for mass testing.

“Because we are focused on infectious disease, we are always monitoring for emerging pathogens, so this was not our first emerging pathogen,” she remarked. “We have seen in the past MERS, which came from UAE, the Middle East. We are always looking and watching, and then we make determinations whether or not we think it is going to be a player in the United States such that we would need to develop the assay.”

That understanding brought about a testing procedure, or assay, in record time.

“In our history this was probably our fastest launch of a new assay because we actually have it as part of a very complex group of other viruses so we could right off the bat determine if it was COVID or flu right out of the gate,” said Cart. “We already had that capability in March. Everybody has been talking about having that now, having it for the fall. We have already been positioned for that and been able to run results since then.”

Since March, there have been 8.8 million coronavirus cases in the United States. Alabama has seen a little over 160,000 confirmed cases in that same period.

The volume of work at Diatherix has matched the country’s case counts throughout the year.

“From March through July, it was on a very rapid, accelerated incline,” Cart noted. “We then hit a bit of a stabilization in August and September. We are back to what I would not say as rapid of an incline, but a steady incline.”

The nation’s peak for new case counts occurred July 24 when 74,710 new cases were registered with the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Reported daily cases dipped to 23,301 on September 8. The U.S. hit a new daily high on October 24 when the CDC registered 83,851 new cases.

Without revealing specific internal data, Cart estimates that Diatherix has averaged around 100,000 tests per month, a figure which puts the company on track to process more than one million coronavirus tests by the end of 2020.

Heavily reliant on overnight shipping, specimens have arrived in Huntsville from providers across the country.

As an example, Cart recalled the work Diatherix did for numerous drive-thru testing sites in states like Michigan, Tennessee and Florida. The process, she said, was no different than a normal physician’s office except they received 300 to 400 specimens per day from places which would normally send them five.

To handle the volume, the layout of the facility had to change. The basement was cleared, and packages were routed down there for opening and specimen transport to the labs.

Even with state-of-the-art equipment and proprietary testing processes, Cart points to a single aspect of the company which has allowed Diatherix to weather an unprecedented strain this year.

“People are our greatest asset,” she emphasized.

Since the beginning of the year, Diatherix has hired 100 new employees, placing the company’s personnel total at 250.

“It is all hands on deck,” said Cart. “First of all, our lab, our R&D team and our client services has been consistently working since developing the test and running the test. There have been no breaks. It’s a pounding intensity that has been relentless and has not stopped.”

The paperwork that accompanies such a high volume of specimens has been daunting. Employees were called to fill multiple roles to handle more than 20,000 documents received daily.

“We had people outside of their normal job, and everyone still had their normal job to do, doing that just so we could get the results out,” explained Cart. “Because we know how important it is to have the same day results at the time when many labs are doing five, six, seven, ten days waiting for the results, which becomes less useful information to the physician once it gets past the date of collection.”

A graduate of the University of Florida, Cart mentioned to one of Diatherix’s employees, who was a native Alabamian, how impressed she was with the way the team was handling the increased workload during the COVID crisis.

“She replied to me, ‘That’s what we call hard stock,’” recollected Cart.

That can-do attitude prevalent among Diatherix’s employees has made quite an impression on the company’s leader.

“It brings tears to my eyes to think about what our employees have given up to be there every day, to do what we need to do not only for the company but for the state and for the country in the pandemic,” Cart remarked. “Their kids are at home getting home-schooled by their spouse or their with grandparents. We have done everything we can to support them but ultimately they are really carrying this company and carrying us forward. It will be something that, in my career I’ve learned a lot as a leader, but the biggest impact to me is how I’ve seen these employees and the people. I can’t even describe it. It is hard stock is the best way to put it.”

The U.S. has seen a surge in coronavirus infections during October, and several European countries are renewing lockdowns.

A forward-looking approach has helped Diatherix prepare for whatever is next in the fight against COVID-19, according to Cart.

“We have already been making changes,” she outlined. “As part of our normal process, with viruses in particular, viruses can mutate. They call it antigenic shift. We are always blasting the viruses, not just SARS-CoV-2, but influenza A, B, anything that essentially could have viral antigenic shift, and watching for that. We are always monitoring for the need to put in a different sequence or different target for our assay to be even more robust.”

As Cart and her team move forward, they see no signs of letting up, themselves.

“The ramp up has been all-consuming but we have been able to produce same-day results as we receive our specimens,” Cart concluded. “In today’s time, with everybody targeting 48 hours, the fact that we can essentially provide the results the day we receive them is still a feather in the Diatherix cap in comparison to all the other labs.”

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

21 mins ago

Alabama can help stop Democrats’ radical immigration agenda

The Democrats’ radical immigration agenda poses an existential threat to the United States.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris support amnesty, citizenship, and public benefits for illegal aliens. They want a big increase in the number of green card allotments for the relatives of naturalized citizens and current green card holders. They want to keep the so-called diversity visa lottery, which favors low-skilled foreigners, and they want more visas for non-agricultural guest-workers. On top of all that they want to increase the number of refugee admissions by fivefold.

If President Trump loses in November, the U.S. Senate will become the only check on these catastrophic ideas. Just that should be a compelling reason for Alabamians to vote for Republican Tommy Tuberville over Democrat Doug Jones.

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Some folks see “illegal” immigration as the problem and leave it at that. Many people on the conservative side see the need to control our borders and believe we should send those here illegally home, but the immigration problem is bigger than that.

Liberal pieties to the contrary notwithstanding, and conservative efforts to sound “understanding and welcoming” also not withstanding, a library of research shows that excessive legal immigration has harmful economic and social consequences. Excessive immigration pushes down wages and puts a strain on social services. Excessive immigration does not allow sufficient time or pressure to bring about assimilation into American culture.

Consider just a few examples.

Wages and job opportunities for citizens decline when large numbers of foreign workers move into an area. The toll on low-skilled workers is particularly heavy. An analysis published in American Affairs on employer labor preferences found that businesses have a strong bias for immigrants when filling low-skilled positions. Regardless of the reasons for that bias, American citizens deserves those opportunities to be employed and flourish.

Meanwhile, a study for the National Bureau of Economic Research found that younger, lower-skilled native workers suffer significant income loss as immigrants enter the workforce — so much so they often have to leave friends and family behind to find work.

A paper published in the journal, Labour Economics, concluded that immigrants depress employment levels and wages for native-born citizens, especially in states like Alabama where the wages are sometimes relatively low.

Not only does unrestricted legal immigration have dire economic effects for native-born citizens, it also strains the social fabric: A study by researchers at the University of Oslo found that immigration from low-income regions stifles social mobility, which in turn can leave native-born workers poor and demoralized. It is difficult to climb the ladder of success if a young person can’t get on the first step because the jobs are taken by people who just recently entered the country.

As for assimilation to their new environment, an article in the American Economic Journal notes that descendants of immigrants tend to remain in economically depressed and culturally isolated enclaves for generations, effectively outside the American mainstream. The United States has pushed the pause button on legal immigration before in order for the ingredients of the melting pot to meld together. It is not a new or harsh idea. It is the smart thing to do for the nation’s health.

There is no issue more critical to a country’s identity and security than sovereignty. Border security and rigorous immigration standards are foundational to national sovereignty. Under the Trump administration, we have finally regained some control over the unrestricted flow of immigrants, both illegal and legal, into the United States. Let’s not turn back the clock.

Tommy Tuberville has stated his support for President Trump’s immigration policies, while Doug Jones seems to care more about the interest of foreign nationals than he does about our fellow Alabamians. Doug Jones is against building a border wall. Doug Jones wants to declare the clear and ongoing emergency on the southern border over, and he wants to expand visa quotas when so many Americans are still unemployed.

The difference between these two positions is profound, and the correct choice for Alabamans is obvious. Alabamans must work to elect Tommy Tuberville and keep the Senate red. The patriots living in less conservative states and the country as a whole are depending on us.

Scott Beason is a former Alabama state senator and representative. He hosts the Scott Beason Show on FM 92.5, AM 1260, FM 95.3 and online at ScottBeason.com.

13 hours ago

Lt. Gov. Ainsworth back to work and channeling Trump on the coronavirus — ‘Don’t live in fear’

The last few weeks have been very interesting for Alabama Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth.

During a church gathering, he contracted the coronavirus and then passed it to his wife. Although he was not entirely asymptomatic, he did not require any medical treatment. He is now headed back to work and ready to do the people’s business.

This mirrors the recovery of President Donald Trump, who was back to work long before many expected he would be.

Wednesday morning, Ainsworth appeared on WVNN’s “The Dale Jackson Show” to speak about his experiences with this illness and how Alabama Democrats attempted to use the diagnosis to raise money for their party, a move Ainsworth said was “typical” of the behavior of their members. Ainsworth even noted that some in the leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party contacted him to check up on him before the fundraising email went out.

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For Ainsworth, the bigger issue was how they misrepresented his positions by claiming that he opposed masks and science. Neither position is true, he said.

Ainsworth advised that while he opposes the mandate, he doesn’t oppose mitigation efforts like masks and social distancing

“I’ve been wearing masks when I go to events. I practice social distancing, I use proper sanitation. I still got it,” he outlined.

His issue, as it is with many people, is the top down mandate.

“I do not think it’s the government’s role to mandate whether or not we should wear masks. I just don’t believe that,” he advised. “I believe in personal responsibility.”

Ainsworth believes that the fundraising email got sent because Alabama Democrats are in trouble, and they know U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) is going to lose. Ainsworth believes the message Democrats are selling just doesn’t work.

He stated, “They’re desperate, they’re grasping at straws, and I think Dems know in Alabama that their policies and positions don’t resonate with people so what do they do, they try spin stuff and lie.”

While Ainsworth mostly shrugged off the Democrats’ tactics, he also warned that people should take the coronavirus seriously and not weaponize for political gain as some in Alabama and on the national level are doing.

Like President Donald Trump, Ainsworth thinks America has to get back to work but it has to do it safely. He noted that “New York has ruined their economy” with shutdowns and restrictions yet they continue to have issues with the coronavirus.

His advice to Alabamians is simple: “[D]on’t live in fear. Continue to live your life but do it safely.”

Listen:

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN.

14 hours ago

Alabama AG Steve Marshall slams ‘Big Tech’ as greatest threat to free, fair elections in America

Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL) is continuing his leadership in calling on Congress to regulate tech monopolies’ control over the flow of information and political discourse in America.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Marshall commented on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s testimony that day to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. This comes after Twitter blocked the distribution of bombshell reports, beginning with the New York Post, regarding the Biden family’s foreign business dealings. The New York Post’s Twitter account has been locked for two weeks and counting.

In calling for change to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Marshall remarked, “Twitter is not the Ministry of Truth. It should concern us all when a platform that holds such tremendous power over information uses that power in contradiction of the principles of free speech and freedom of the press.”

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In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Wednesday afternoon, Marshall expounded on the topic in strong terms.

“In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that there is a need to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996,” Alabama’s Republican attorney general advised. “The egregious actions taken two weeks ago by Twitter and, to a lesser extent, Facebook to suppress a news report of significant public interest—along with speech about it—published in one of our country’s oldest and most-widely-read newspapers in the run-up to a presidential election, has only made the need for reform more evident than ever.”

“Big Tech holds tremendous power over information and brazenly wields that power according to its social and political biases,” he continued. “Indeed, social-media platforms oftentimes appear less guided by the principles of American democracy—such as free speech and press—than by the principles of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth: amplify favored voices and viewpoints, censor disfavored voices and viewpoints.”

Marshall noted, “I agree with Justice Thomas’s recent assessment that courts have expanded Section 230 ‘beyond the natural reading of the [statutory] text,’ and support the recent announcement by Chairman Pai that the Federal Communications Commissions will undertake rulemaking to clarify the meaning of Section 230. But there are issues inherent in Section 230 that can only be fully cured by legislative action.”

“At today’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Ted Cruz opined that Facebook, Google, and Twitter ‘collectively pose … the single greatest threat to free speech in America, and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections.’ I concur and urge Congress to take action,” he concluded.

Marshall also published a must-read op-ed in Real Clear Policy on this same issue, calling Twitter’s and Facebook’s censorship of the New York Post’s reporting “un-American.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Ivey administration’s allocation of CARES Act funds underscores importance of, support for first responders

Wednesday is National First Responders Day, and the importance of America’s tremendous first responders is even more magnified this year as the nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey’s administration recently established the Health Care and Emergency Response Providers grant program. This enabled first responders, including private ambulance and other emergency response service (EMS) providers, to receive federal funds through the state’s share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The grant program received a total allocation of $35 million, building on the Ivey administration’s total allocation of up to $250 million in CARES Act funds for healthcare-related purposes in Alabama.

This support for first responders and health care providers in general has drawn praise for Ivey and her administration. This includes the Alabama Association of Ambulance Services (AAAS).

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“We applaud Governor Ivey and her administration for recognizing the critical role that EMS and ambulance providers are playing in the state’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Jason Trammell, president of AAAS. “This funding will support providers across the state, who are working around the clock to serve their communities in a safe and efficient manner while their workers are on the frontlines of the fight against this virus.”

The Health Care & Emergency Response Providers grant program includes cash grants in an amount of up to $15,000 for providers that meet certainly eligibility requirements.

“Our company serves some of Alabama’s largest cities as well as its more rural areas. No matter where our providers are operating, health and safety is paramount to our underlying mission,” advised Brett Jovanovich of Lifeguard Ambulance Service. “With the cold and flu season around the corner, and with the increased potential of another wave of COVID-19, we intend to utilize these funds to fully ensure that our paramedics have the PPE and supplies needed for their safety and for the protection of patients in the communities we serve.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News on Wednesday, Ivey spokesperson Gina Maiola said, “Governor Ivey has the highest respect for the many first responders across our state, especially as they have faced unusual obstacles over the last several months.”

“As the governor remains committed to getting this money in the hands of those who need it, she was proud to award $35 million of the CARES Act money to establish the Health Care and Emergency Response Providers grant program. These providers play a critical role in our state’s response to COVID-19, as well as in our day to day lives, and especially as we celebrate National First Responders Day, Governor Ivey applauds them for their invaluable, tough service,” she concluded.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn